A 20-year-old Lihue man was sentenced on Wednesday in connection with the harassment of a Hawaiian monk seal at Salt Pond Beach Park in Hanapepe back in April 2016.
Shylo Akuna was sentenced to four years in prison. Bystanders recorded a video that showed Akuna aggressively harassing a seal. That video went viral on social media. Akuna was apparently intoxicated at the time, according to prosecutors.
“Animal abuse is often a precursor to other types of violence and cannot be tolerated in our community. We thank our public safety partners at DLNR and NOAA for their efforts in bringing this case to a successful resolution, especially DOCARE Officers Warren Tavares and Kalani Addington as well as NOAA Special Agent Brandon Jim On,” said Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar. “Our natural environment is crucial to us in Hawai’i; this includes respect for our endangered species. To the best of our knowledge this is the first conviction under the felony monk seal harassment statute and we are satisfied that the sentence was appropriate and will serve to protect the community from this defendant.”
Court records show that Akuna was also sentenced on June 23 to serve one year in jail for the unrelated theft and slaughter of a goat from a pasture on Kauai’s west side in January 2016.
Akuna still faces charges regarding another unrelated case involving an alleged burglary of a room at the Po’ipu Grand Hyatt hotel in March.